Not all Interviews are perfect

I just received a call from a customer who told me that he had a 2-part interview and he was extremely excited that the first part, a behavioral interview went well. In fact, it went so well that even though he struggled with the technical portion of the interview they were going to give him a second chance. In this case he does not have to wait 3 months for a follow up interview, just 3 days.

Does every interview have to be perfect? No! From time to time you will get a second chance based on skills you demonstrated.

This reminds of an interview I conducted a few years ago. We used a combination of behavioral questions (asking about past experiences) and a case interview (a scenario created to simulate the responsibilities of the job).

Both parts of the interview are important. The behavioral portion allowed us to understand how the candidate thought. The case gave us a peek into how the candidate would handle the day to day responsibilities. All interviews are about gaining information to make better hiring decisions, and both helped to create a picture of the candidate.

So here is the story:

We had a sudden resignation and needed a find strong candidate. I was excited to get a recommendation from a trusted employee who had a connection in the area. His connection was a woman looking to change careers so she could grow. So far so good, a recommended candidate that wanted to grow. There were already two pluses by her name.

Recommendations from current employees are always better than just going to the marketplace. Someone on your team has already screened the candidate and is willing to put their stamp of approval on them.

She rocked the screen interview; she nailed the first step. She was so confident and clear that I knew she would rock the job. I was so excited, not only would I fill the job with a strong candidate, but she was going to be a Rockstar. How do you contain yourself when you have found the perfect candidate?

I immediately set up the second interview which included multiple interviewers.

I was so confident that I was boasting that I had found the perfect candidate. I had a smile from ear to ear, this was going to be a breeze, she was going to rock this interview. Well…not exactly.

The interview started well, but then we asked about the case. She struggled with the case and now this was becoming a long interview. The work she had done previously was completely different and the terms we were using were foreign to her. At the end of the interview we asked several behavioral questions and she rocked them, and I felt better.

Thankfully, the people I worked with had nothing but the best intentions, we wanted everyone to do well in interviews, but we were not willing to drop our standards. What do we do with this candidate? She has a clear thought process as demonstrated by her ability to answer the behavioral questions, but what about the day to day work. How will she do? Will she be successful accomplishing the business objectives?

There was a spirited discussion during the post interview discussion, but we decided that she did well enough for another look. We moved her to the final step of the interview process and had her make sales calls with some of our current employees. She had a nice easy style with our customers and was easily able to present our products and programs. There it was the logical thoughtful smart thought process; she just needed a little time to understand how we do business.

We hired her and she just celebrated her 6th anniversary with the company. I have no doubt she will continue to celebrate anniversaries while adding value daily.

A few years later she recommended a friend for a job and we hired her as well. Another Rockstar all we because we saw the skills we needed and did not become tied to the interview questions.

Hiring is always a risk and it is important to take your time, mistakes are costly in money, energy, and time. Even with the risks it is more important not to miss great candidates, they make or break the company.

Lindsey Levine was in the corporate world for 30 years in a Sales Management Position where one of his key responsibilities was hiring. He transitioned to his new career and is the principal of Lindsey Levine Resume and Interviewing Preparation.

Not all Interviews are perfect

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